AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Stefanie London
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I avoided fiction writing for a long time because I wasn’t confident I could do it. I did a lot of other types of writing before that including blogging and working in communications writing things like newsletters, training documents and leader communications.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
Around the same time I started working on my first manuscript during National Novel Writing Month in November 2012. Initially I just wanted to see if I could finish a novel but the desire to be published was always there in the background even if I refused to acknowledge it at the time.
Tell us a little more about Only The Brave Try Ballet:
ONLY THE BRAVE TRY BALLET is a story about two people who’ve worked hard at their respective dreams, only to have everything crumble around them. Jasmine Bell is a former professional ballerina who can no longer dance en pointe and Grant Farley is an AFL player trying to shake off his wild-child past. On the surface they seem like complete opposites, but deep down they’re both passionate, hard-working people who find it difficult to trust. They have to learn what it means to be brave in order to regain passion in their lives.
The central female character, uptight ex-ballerina Jasmine, suffered a horrific setback that essentially ended her career. How did that affect her characterisation for you whilst writing?
I thought about how that would make her feel after the initial anger and shock had worn off. The story takes place about eighteen months after her accident and six months after she’s admitted defeat where dancing en pointe is concerned. The feelings which came through most strongly for Jasmine were confusion, frustration and loss of direction. Battling these feelings makes her a little prickly especially around people who don’t seem to appreciate ballet. Given she’s a very disciplined and dedicated person (as ballerinas have to be) she is often caught between her desire to move forward and her fear of failing again.
Only The Brave Try Ballet tracks the central characters and their journey from isolating pasts into a flourishing future together. Essentially that’s what love is about isn’t it—healing, growing, and forging your own paths. What was the most difficult aspect of charting this plot?
I think the hardest part was in making each character have their own unique journey. Grant and Jasmine are very similar in many ways: they’re stubborn, ambitious and tend to pull away from others in troubled times. I wanted them to each grow and become better people in a way that was natural to them. Grant’s character went through many iterations, it took me a long time to get to know him well enough to tell his story and stop it from totally mirroring Jasmine’s.
I’ve heard a whisper that upon submitting your first manuscript to Harlequin you received a call from their London office offering you a two-book contract. Firstly, is that really how it happened? Secondly, how has this boosted your confidence as a writer?
There were quite a few rounds of revisions between my initial submission and the call, but it was my first manuscript and I did get a contract for two books. The story was reworked and rewritten three times over an eight month period. I’m so grateful to have been able to work with a supportive editor on my first book, she really helped me to hone my skills and improve my craft. Absolutely it boosted my conference! A lot of people told me it was rare to sell a first manuscript, so I wasn’t expecting much out of the submission. Each round of revisions was like Christmas morning and I haven’t looked back.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
That it’s not all poorly written bodice rippers. Romance as a genre is varied and there really is something for everyone. Also, that knowing the couple will get their “happy ever after” in no way diminishes the story.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Figuring out a way to write.
Biggest accomplishment to date:
Other than getting my book published? Probably getting married to my wonderful husband. He’s incredibly supportive of my writing and there’s no way I’d be here without him. Yes, I’m a complete sap.
What’s next for you?
Lots of things! I’ve got my second book coming out with Harlequin in October 2014 and then I have a novella out with Entangled Publishing not long after that. I’m also working on a few other writing related projects but they’re in early stages. The ideas don’t stop coming!
Confessions of an Author:
Favourite snack whilst writing?
Coffee…is that a snack?
Is there something we’d be shocked to know about you?
I love zombie video games.
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
I love writing sex scenes and I find the HEA scene hard to write. Not because I don’t like writing the HEA, but because it’s the most important scene in my opinion – that’s a lot of pressure!
Favourite travel experience?
Drinking champagne under the Eiffel tower.
Favourite fictional character:
Probably Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot since I love Agatha Christie’s books so much.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Have a White Christmas and I’m doing it this year!
Milk or dark chocolate? Depends on my mood.
Red, white, bubbly? Bubbly, but only the good stuff. Otherwise I love a good Pinot Noir.
Salty or sweet? Sweet.
Beach or mountains? Mountains.
Give or receive? Both – a healthy life is full of balance.
Only The Brave Try Ballet
Step up, Grant Farley…not your typical ballet student!
Football pro Grant Farley is nursing an injury and needs to get back into shape—fast. Ballet wouldn’t be his first or even his last choice, but he’s desperate. Enter tantalizingly prim teacher Jasmine Bell—one disapproving arch of her eyebrow and Grant knows he’ll enjoy getting her tutu in a flutter!
But it’s not only Grant’s flexibility that Jasmine’s pushing to the limit! He knows she feels the heat between them, so why won’t she give in to it? Time to convince Jasmine that if she’s brave enough to dance en pointe she can certainly handle a fling with him!